Hunger and Food Access

Senior Citizens.

Hunger-Free Minnesota has announced new data showing "there has been a 22 percent increase in senior households receiving food support from 2008 to 2010." A typical Minnesota senior citizen receiving food support is white, 69 and widowed or divorced, the organization reports. Also, 13 percent of those receiving food support have at least some college education. Less than half of seniors who live below the poverty line are enrolled for food support.

October, 2011 news release re: senior citizens


Forty percent (40%) of those seeking emergency hunger relief are children under the age of 18; a five percent increase over the past five years.

Forty-one percent (41%) of households with children under the age of 18 seeking emergency hunger relief are very food-insecure, meaning they regularly experience hunger; a 12 percent increase.

Source: Hunger in America Study

Food Security & Food Insecurity.

Food Security means access at all times to enough food for an active, healthy lifestyle.

Food Insecurity describes a situation in which families or individuals do not always have access to enough food to avoid hunger. Skipped meals or scanty meals happen in these families.

Minnesota’s overall food insecurity rate is 11.2%, but among children under the age of 18 it is 18.3%.  This translates into 231,100 food insecure children. 

Food Insecurity in MN is highest in the 5th Congressional District (metro) and the 8th Congressional District (NE MN, including Duluth).  Both have about 96,000 food-insecure people.  The total number of food-insecure Minnesotans is estimated at 583,000.

Source: Map the Meal Gap

More About Food Security and Food Deserts

Dr. Lois Wright Morton is a Rural Sociologist at Iowa State University.  Following are some highlights from her presentation, “Understanding Food Deserts.”

See the Understanding Food Deserts presentation for details on further references and citations to other work in this area.

What is Food Security?

Food security: access by all people at all times to enough food for an active, healthy life.
It includes at minimum:
- available nutritionally adequate & safe foods
- ability to acquire foods in socially acceptable ways  (Anderson 1990)

Sources of food for people who struggle with food security:

- market based systems (e.g. “normal” food systems) (Campbell 1991)

- non-market food systems (are these socially acceptable?)

The non-market food economy includes:

a) Redistribution (current public safety net system):  food stamps, WIC, food banks, food pantries, soup kitchens, senior meal sites; and subsidized school breakfast, lunch and summer programs

b) Reciprocity (exchange of food resources between members of society based on social networks civic structure of place): garden produce, meat, fishing.

Rural communities in Iowa and Minnesota are solving their food problems through personal networks of trust and community networks which have an interest in solving rural food infrastructure problems.

Within personal networks, there is a lot of sharing going on.  In a sample of rural residents: 
- 75% give food to other family members and 68% give food to friends
- 50 % have a garden and 40 % report receiving food from family and friends’ gardens;
- 25% exchanged meat and fish from family/friends
- 19 % gave food to others they didn’t know
- Over 40 % gave food to the food pantry and food drives

Many farmers participate in informal food-sharing networks to ensure that their family, friends, and neighbors have enough to eat.

While these networks are very important, they have limitations.  Some people may fall through the cracks if they aren’t personally acquainted with a generous farmer. Also, at some point, farmers have to get paid for what they grow.